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The Sounds of Central
2nd Annual Central High School celebration spotlights music and musicians
By Eddie Torres
Fort Wayne Reader
45 years after Central High School closed, the legacy and legend of the institution remains strong in Fort Wayne. The “Grandfather of Fort Wayne High Schools,” Central High (1922-1971) cultivated academic excellence, celebrated athletic dominance, and thrived as an early adopter of integrated education.
The African / African American Historical Society Museum; Central High School graduates and the school’s extended family; and Scrambled Egg(s) Design and Production support honor this powerful legacy with the 2nd Annual Central High School All-Year Blowout on Saturday, April 23.
Dr. John Aden, Executive Director of the AAAHSM says the festival celebrates Fort Wayne’s shared cultural and ethnic heritage in the field of education and highlights the struggle for progress in terms of racial equality. “Central High School, with its unique mix of backgrounds from the Central city, represented a total experience, from academics to athletics, which set several generations on their courses toward excellence,” says Aden. “Without a doubt, Central produced Fort Wayne’s greatest generation, and we hope to honor it. The festival is also a way for our small nonprofit to highlight our collection of Central High School yearbooks and exhibits featuring esteemed and accomplished graduates, in addition to raising funds to supports our operations."
William Bryant Rozier, Event Creative Director, owner of Scrambled Egg(s) Design and Production, is the son of Willie B. Rozier, Class of ’61. Most people know his dad from the basketball court, where he was a Varsity starter since his freshman year. Willie Rozier played in the infamous 1-Point loss semi-final game. “My dad was always proud of his Central roots,” Rozier says. “With this project, I’ve learned more about why my father raised my five sisters and myself the way he did. I don’t know where his world view was formed, but it was definitely nurtured and encouraged at Central.”
The Sounds of Central is the theme for the 2016 event. The AAAHSM and Scrambled Egg(s) are collecting all of the lost music and sounds of the school. The Sounds of Central project began in 2015 with the recording of the Central High March Beat Cadence, and the play-by-play recreation of the 1960 Central basketball state championship semi-final game — originally recorded without sound. A screening for the basketball recreation was held in May 2015. Future screenings across Northeast Indiana are also in the works.
Central High School has deep music roots in Northeast Indiana and beyond, with many its graduates receiving national recording contracts, including Sonny Charles (born Charles Hemphill) who fronted the band Sony Charles and the Checkmates. The group, discovered by Nancy Wilson, had one major hit (recorded by Phil Spector), “Black Pearl.”
The first Central group to be collected for the Sounds project is the band Tyrone and the Upsetters, filled with former Central High School students. The band was fronted by singer Tyrone Harris. Thomas Brownlee (Class of ’64) played rhythm guitar. Don Ganaway, the co-creator of the Central High School Cadence, was a drummer in the group.
Plans are in the works for the recording and collecting of other Central sounds and music, including the recording of the school song by Central High graduates (either before or directly after the April 23rd event).
Call the AAAHSM for ticket info: 260.420.0765
The festival jumps off on April 23, 2016 at the McMillen Park Community Center, from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (Admission: $15). A banquet dinner will follow event in the same venue, and will be held 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. (Admission: $25). A Combo Ticket is also available for $35. There will be a small exhibition from the AAAHSM the integration of Central High School and Fort Wayne city schools.
The McMillen Park Community Center is located at 3901 Abbott Street in McMillen Park, in the former home of the McMillen Ice Arena.
The event site: www.CentralHighSchoolFest.com
The Sounds of Central SoundCloud page: soundcloud.com/sounds-of-fw-central